Toho, Japan's largest film distributor and exhibitor, has named its new president, Hideyuki Takai. He replaces Toshihiko Ishida, who will take the post of advisor.
Takai joined Toho in 1964 and has been involved in film production since 1977. Credits include Kon Ichikawa's 48 Ronin (1994), Hideyuki Hirayama's School Ghost Stories (1995) and Koki Mitani's Welcome Back, Mr. Macdonald (1997). Among recent hits are the 2000 thriller Whiteout, which grossed $32m (Y4.2bn) and last year's romantic drama Twixt Calm & Passion, which earned $20.6m (Y2.7bn).
"We aim to expand revenues in the area of film distribution and exhibition, especially co-productions, by joining with TV networks, publishers, video companies and other partners," said Takai at the press conference announcing his appointment. He also noted that film distribution and exhibition, theatrical plays and real estate are the Toho group's three main businesses, of which the film business accounts for 60% of the company's total earrings.
Toho posted a record-breaking net profit of $78.5m (Y10.3bn) for the fiscal year 2002, ending February 28, an increase of 16.2% over 2001 - largely due to the unprecedented success of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, which has grossed $231m (Y30.3bn) and recorded 23.4 million admissions.
Under Takai's leadership, Toho plans expand its multiplex business. The company operates 12 multiplexes nationwide, with its first, in Shiga prefecture, opening in 1997. Toho will open a seven-screen complex in Ehime prefecture this summer, a eight-screen multiplex in Hyogo prefecture on October 1 and another in Toyama prefecture this Autumn. Toho is building a 12-screen multiplex in Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido together with Shochiku and Toei that is scheduled to open in March 2003.
Toho will release The Copy Cat, Yoshimitsu Morita's serial-killer thriller, this June, Returner, Takashi Yamazaki's action adventure starring Takeshi Kaneshiro (Chung King Express) this August 2002, Ryoma No Tsuma To Sono Aijin, Jun Ichikawa's comedy based on a hit play written by Koki Mitani (Welcome Back, Mr. Macdonald) this autumn, and Masahiro Shinoda's $15.2m (Y2bn) thriller Spy Sorge, starring Iain Glen, in the summer of 2003.